Thursday November 26, 2020
I meant to post these two weeks ago but I've been busy with work and besides awful Republicans kept making me feel less than celebratory. But today, Thanksgiving Day, seems perfect for it. They're all tweets from Sat. Nov, 7, the day everyone but Trump and the GOP acknowledged Joe Biden won the 2020 election and will become the 46th president of the United States.
This one made me smile. Out of the chalk of babes.
Laughed out loud here:
Finally, good fucking riddance:
People keep talking about what this year has been like. They keep coming up with metaphors. To me, 2020 reminds me of a Ricky Gervais BBC comedy. We get two years of horror at the smallness of humanity; and then, for a holiday special, he gives us a happy ending—like a cherry on top of a shit sundae. That's this year. Trump and Covid are the shit, Biden/Harris and vaccine reports are the cherry. The pain is lifting. We can breathe again. After four years, we can breathe again.
If I can't be thankful for that, what am I here for?
Wednesday November 25, 2020
“I don't get it. All these other Republicans, all over the country, they all win their races. And I'm the only guy that loses?”
-- Pres. Donald Trump during a meeting with Michigan lawmakers last week, as reported in Tim Alberta's must-read piece, “The Inside Story of Michigan's Fake Voter Fraud Scandal,” on Politico. The subtitle is “How a state that was never in doubt became a 'national embarrassment' and a symbol of the Republican Party's fealty to Donald Trump,” and that's exactly it, and it is an embarassment; and we only escaped a more extended constitutional crisis because one GOP official, Aaron Van Langevelde, had the guts to do his job and essentially tell Donald Trump he had no clothes. The others? Pretending his evidence-less charges of voter fraud had validity, and that he won in a landslide an election he lost by 6 million votes. (More on Van Langeveld via Charles Pierce.)
Alberta writes: “Republicans here—from Ronna Romney McDaniel to Laura Cox to federal and local lawmakers—knew it was a lie. But they didn't lift a finger in protest as the president disparaged Michigan and subverted America's democratic norms. Why?” The short answer is “career ambition.” If you had it, and you wanted to stay with the GOP, you went along with the crazy.
How much? This part about Ronna McDaniel is stunning. I had no idea. “Born into Michigan royalty—granddaughter of the beloved former governor, George Romney, and niece of former presidential nominee Mitt Romney—she knows the state's politics as well as anyone. Working for her uncle's campaign here, and then as a national committeewoman and state party chair, McDaniel earned respect for her canny, studied approach. She spun and exaggerated and played the game, but she was generally viewed as being above board. That changed after Trump's 2016 victory. Tapped by the president-elect to take over the Republican National Committee—on the not-so-subtle condition that she remove 'Romney' from her professional name—McDaniel morphed into an archetype of the Trump-era GOP sycophant. There was no lie too outlandish to parrot, no behavior too unbecoming to justify, no abuse of power too flagrant to enable.”
It's that not-so-subtle condition. That she went along with? Wow. These people. These absolutely worthless people.
Tuesday November 24, 2020
'Democracy Has a Fundamental Assumption'
What is the awful consequence of the War in Iraq as you see it?
Well, let me say I think it's not soluble. That it's not even a bad war, it's not even a dreadful war, it's a war that it may have repurcussions that will go on and on forever. It's like the sort of hideous, obsessive experience you never get out from under.
I won't be fancy about it. It's a lose-lose situation. Because we will never succeed in turning Iraq into a democracy—which I think is immensely difficult for a very simple reason: You don't take democracy and put it in a hypodermic and inject it into a country. Democracy is a grace. For religious people—not fundamentalists, who are in my mind not nearly so much religious as totalitarian, because you've got to do it their way—but for people who have religious spirit, democracy is a grace. In other words, it's something that you can abuse.
Democracy has a fundamental assumption: that if you allow the mass of people to express their will, more good will come out of that than bad. That means that democracy can always fail. And the best of democracies can fail. We have probably the greatest democracy that ever existed: We can go down the tubes; we can turn into a totalitarian country, too.
-- Norman Mailer talking to Charlie Rose, Nov. 6, 2003. This snippet begins at 15:37. Norman was always a great, underrated prognosticator, which I mentioned in my obit for him in 2007 and in this 2017 blog post. To be a great prognosticator, you just need to know human nature and keep a clear mind. Or at least keep it free of the noise; of the bullshit. God, I miss him. I feel like re-reading him. At the moment, I'm re-reading Joyce.
Saturday November 21, 2020
“Consider just how openly racist and undemocratic the Michigan debacle was. Two white Republican canvassers refused to certify the results of the state's most populous Democratic county, which contains Black-majority Detroit. Was there evidence of fraud? No. ... One of those canvassers, Monica Palmer, suggested that the white-majority areas of the county could be certified, while the Black-majority city of Detroit could not. ...
”This was a racial disenfranchisement move so blatant it would make Jim Crow blush. Michigan Republican leaders applauded this, and Trump tweeted, “Flip Michigan back to TRUMP.” Among the national Republican leaders, those with a conscience—a group that could fit in a broom closet—have been quiet.“
-- Timothy Egan, ”Donald Trump Is Leaving Behind Blueprints to End Democracy," The New York Times
Friday November 20, 2020
America Held Hostage, Day 17
“I'm no political pundit, but I grew up with a dad who was a federal prosecutor and he taught me a lot. I've also sat a fair amount of poker with serious players and l'll say this: I do not think Trump is trying to 'make his base happy' or 'laying the groundwork for his own network' or that 'chaos is what he loves.' The core of it is he knows he's in deep, multi-dimensional legal jeopardy and this defines his every action.
”We're seeing: 1) a tactical delay of the transition to buy time for coverup and evidence suppression, and, above all, 2) a desperate endgame, which is to create enough chaos and anxiety about a peaceful transfer of power, and fear of irreparable damage to the system, that he can cut a Nixon-style deal in exchange for finally conceding. But he doesn’t have the cards. His bluff after ‘the flop’ has been called in court, his ‘turn card’ bluff will be an escalation and his ‘river card’ bluff could be really ugly. But they have to be called. We cannot let this mobster bully the USA into a deal to save his ass by threatening our democracy. THAT is his play. But he’s got junk in his hand. So call him.
“I will allow that he’s also a whiny, sulky, petulant, Grinchy, vindictive little 10-ply supersoft bitch who no doubt is just throwing a wicked poutfest and trying to give a tiny-hand middle finger to the whole country for pure spite without a single thought for the dead and dying. But his contemptible, treasonous, seditious assault on the stability of our political compact isn’t about 2024, personal enrichment or anything else other than trying to use chaos and threat to the foundation of the system as leverage to trade for a safe exit. Call. His. Bluff.
”Faith in the strength of our sacred institutions and founding principles is severely stretched ... but they will hold. They will. He’s leaving, gracelessly & in infamy. But if we trade for it, give him some brokered settlement, we’ll be vulnerable to his return. We can’t flinch."
-- Actor Edward Norton, in a six-tweet thread, early this morning
Wednesday November 18, 2020
America Held Hostage, Day 15
I've been fairly calm through this, although less so yesterday afternoon when two Republicans in Wayne County, Michigan voted (w/o precedent or evidence) to not certify the 2020 electioin outcome. Outcry. Two hours later, they recanted. I'd like to hear them confess, to be honest.
This guy, Ned Staebler, was a hero in that fight.
Trump seems intent on bringing anything down with him: these Wayne County Republicans, Lindsey Graham, half the Republican party, the entire country. Wait, make that about 90% of the Republican party. They're now not just the opposite of the Democratic party, they are anti-democratic—and thus anti-American. This is what you get when you listen to your own bullshit for a quarter century.
Monday November 16, 2020
It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of Times
Not top 500, just weird as hell.
Over at the NY Times, Bret Stephens and Gail Collins have a good conversation about the bad times that were/are the Trump era. Stephens is particularly succinct here:
The child-separation policy was definitely the administration's single most disgraceful policy. Cruel, reckless and stupid — like Trump himself. I'd place that in the same basket of deplorable acts alongside the Muslim immigration ban, his accusation that Democrats want illegal immigrants “to pour into and infest our country,” and his drastic reduction of the number of refugees admitted into the country.
Collins adds Trump's COVID response (“history will remember Trump as the president who pooh-poohed a pandemic”), and then it's Stephens again:
We also can't ignore the foreign policy hit parade. Exchanging “beautiful” letters with Kim Jong-un. Taking Vladimir Putin at his word on the question of Russia's election interference. Strong-arming the president of Ukraine to provide political dirt on the Biden family. Asking Xi Jinping's help to get re-elected. Calling NATO into question. Maybe one of our clever readers can set all this to the tune of Billy Joel's “We Didn't Start the Fire.”
What bothers me most of all, Gail, is Trump's serial trashing of political norms, which wasn't so much a moment as it was a constant. He'll be remembered as the president who treated every civil servant as a personal servant, every cabinet secretary as a toady, every critic as an enemy, every enemy as a role model and every supporter as a fool.
So many horrible moments, day after day, that it's tough to keep them straight. Maybe making a list as Stephens suggests isn't a bad idea. He says Top 5 but I'd suggest Top 1,000. It could be a book.
Thursday November 12, 2020
Wednesday November 11, 2020
The Fall and Fall of the Republican Party
“The most dangerous attackers of American democracy aren't the Russians or the Chinese. They are the leaders of the Republican Party.
”In the face of a commanding national triumph by President-elect Joe Biden — not just an Electoral College victory but a popular-vote margin that is approaching five million — President Trump and top Republicans are behaving like spoiled children refusing to let go of their toys. ...
“The rot pervades the administration. The Trump-appointed head of the General Services Administration, Emily W. Murphy, has yet to recognize Mr. Biden as the winner of the election and the president-elect, preventing him from accessing millions of dollars in funds, national-security tools and other essential resources to begin the long and complex task of presidential transition.
”On Monday, Mr. McConnell snidely remarked, 'Let's not have any lectures about how the president should immediately, cheerfully accept preliminary election results from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last election.'
“Oh, please. Hillary Clinton conceded the 2016 election less than 24 hours after polls closed, even though Mr. Trump had barely eked out wins in three decisive swing states and was trailing badly in the popular vote. So did other top Democrats, including, crucially, President Barack Obama, who called Mr. Trump before sunrise to congratulate him and to 'invite him to come to the White House tomorrow to talk about making sure that there is a successful transition between our presidencies.'
”This is what you do when you lose an election. Republicans still howled in outrage because Mrs. Clinton had dared to hold off conceding on election night itself.“
-- Jesse Wegman, ”The Republican Party Is Attacking Democracy," The New York Times. We need more of this. Please. This should be the focus—the undermining of American democrcy by Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and their rabble.
Tuesday November 10, 2020
70 Million Trump Voters Can Be Wrong
“No new president has ever had to fear that his predecessor might expose the nation's secrets as President-elect Joe Biden must with Trump, current and former officials said. Not only does Trump have a history of disclosures, he checks the boxes of a classic counterintelligence risk: He is deeply in debt and angry at the U.S. government, particularly what he describes as the ”deep state“ conspiracy that he believes tried to stop him from winning the White House in 2016 and what he falsely claims is an illegal effort to rob him of reelection. ...
”Many concerned experts were quick to note that Trump reportedly paid scant attention during his presidential intelligence briefings and has never evinced a clear understanding of how the national security apparatus works. His ignorance may be the best counterweight to the risk he poses.“
-- from ”As an ex-president, Trump could disclose the secrets he learned while in office, current and former officials fear," by Shane Harris, in The Washington Post
Sunday November 08, 2020
'The people have[N'T] spoken, and we [DIS]respect the majesty of the Democratic system!'
From the article, “Why Trump Can't Afford to Lose,” by Jane Mayer, and published on the New Yorker site several days before the election:
If the winner's advantage in the Electoral College is decisive, neither side will be able to easily dispute the result. But several of Trump's former associates told me that if there is any doubt at all—no matter how questionable—the President will insist that he has won. Michael Cohen, Trump's former attorney, told me, “He will not concede. Never, ever, ever.” He went on, “I believe he's going to challenge the validity of the vote in each and every state he loses—claiming ballot fraud, seeking to undermine the process and invalidate it.” Cohen thinks that the recent rush to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court was motivated in part by Trump's hope that a majority of Justices would take his side in a disputed election. ...
“He'll blame everyone except for himself,” Cohen said. “Every day, he'll rant and rave and yell and scream about how they stole the Presidency from him. He'll say he won by millions and millions of ballots, and they cheated with votes from dead people and people who weren't born yet. He'll tell all sorts of lies and activate his militias. It's going to be a pathetic show. But, by stacking the Supreme Court, he'll think he can get an injunction. Trump repeats his lies over and over with the belief that the more he tells them the more people will believe them. We all wish he'd just shut up, but the problem is he won't.”
How much more can he muck up the system? I don't know. On the plus side, his lawyers are “not exactly the A-Team,” in the words of LA attorney Ted Boutros, who is a member of the A-Team. On the downside, thanks to Mitch and the Federalist Society, he's packed the courts with partisan, lesser lights. Plus there's the damage he does to democracy with his accusations—the fury he'll provoke to get what he wants. I also don't know if he's going to jail. That's the second half of the article. But I do know this: I'm tired of crazy, and Trump is motherfucking crazy.
Saturday November 07, 2020
Not Much, How About You III
This morning I was getting the first haircut I'd had since February, since the pandemic struck, and of course Todd and I were talking about the election. Normally we talk Broadway musicals and superhero movies but these are extraordinary times, and in the midst of it all I began to get a slew of text messages but I didn't check my phone—which was in the pocket of my coat on a nearby chair anyway. But Todd was checking his Twitter feed to show me something and then realized something was up. Had ... it been called? It had. By now it had been somewhat expected—although a chance at a backslide in PA, GA, AZ and NV was still a possibility, at least in my worst-case-scenario mind. But that's how I found out. I took it with a nod and a smile beneath my mask, and on the ride home I turned on the radio, KUOW, which I'd been avoiding for days, and where they were still playing a prerecorded episode of “Hidden Brain” with Shankar Vedantam, about the way alpha-male apes act, and how the ape community, even as it acquiesces, expresses displeasure and disagreement, and yes, it was the wrong episode to be playing at that moment but was it? It still felt very, very relevant.
When I got home and onto Twitter, which I'd also been avoiding for days, that's when it began to feel real, and a relief. Later I walked over to Cal Anderson Park, where Seattlites had gathered to dance and celebrate and woo!, and I celebrated and wooed! with them, and cars honked, and it just felt great, and it was just a shame we couldn't hug everybody because that was the vibe. It was like VE or VJ Day but our version: VDT Day. Our long national nightmare was finally over. We have a real president again.
The downside of the election, and all the work to be done, is obvious, and some folks like Debbie Downers keep bringing that up, like we don't know it, but no, give us 24 hours. Mitch McConnell is already machinating, but give us 24 hours. Seventy million stupid fucking assholes still voted for this monstrosity, and there is a divide in this country that's almost less left vs. right than reality-based community vs. QAnon, and that divide, that chasm, has to be overcome somehow, but no, give us 24 fucking hours first. To dance and celebrate and woo. To bask. Put a nail in the coffin: Nov. 8, 2016 – Nov. 7, 2020. We survived it. We survived him. My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. There's enough of us. if we work together, there's enough of us.
Harpo, take us out. xo